“Fire That Reporter, Judy Thomas!”

All anybody on our network is talking about right now is the amazing series of stories in the Kansas City Star. Today’s paper featured an extensive story on the abuse and criminality going on in America’s Homeowners Associations. Well-researched, well-documented, and well-reported the Star again sets a national standard upon which all HOA stories should be based. This is not to diminish my respect for the Las Vegas Review-Journal which has long reported the organized criminal activities among Nevada HOAs and the corrupt public officials who oversee them. But reporter Judy Thomas has broken new ground with her story on the national HOA scam.

The industry’s reaction is predictable. They’re already accusing the paper of not being fair. They’re complaining that the paper didn’t seek out the other side, and that the investigative series was biased.

Next, the Community Associations Institute, that ethically challenged, dishonest multi-billion dollar outfit will put together a committee of famous people to descend on the management of the Kansas City Star demanding that reporter Judy Thomas be fired. And Judy will be called into her boss’s office to listen to the harangue.

How do I know? Because it’s pro-forma. The same thing happened to me. More than twenty years ago I did an extensive investigative series on mid-west meat packing plants and the kind of filth that’s sold to American consumers every day. My sources? None other than a number of FDA inspectors and managers of several meat packing plants. The most prominent meat packer in Colorado took offense, and the day after my story aired he and a United States Congressman were in my boss’s office demanding that I be fired. After an hour of ranting at me and demanding I be immediately put out on the street my boss told me, “Geez, I’ve never had a U.S. Congressman demand that I fire an employee!”

That Congressman was later rewarded with re-election, then election as a U.S. Senator, and finally an appointment as president of the University of Colorado.

Get ready, Judy. Just keep a smile on your face. Your story is beyond amazing and it should win some prestigious journalism awards. It makes me very proud of the courage of the management of the Kansas City Star.

(link to HOAs From Hell, Kansas City Star)


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Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

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